Court Date Set For Challenge Of Isle Of Wight’s Adult Social Care Policy

Hearing To Begin Next Week

19.10.2011

Lawyers representing a number of disabled service users affected by changes to adult social care on the Isle of Wight today confirmed that a High Court Hearing will start on October 25, and is expected to last two days.

The latest in a series of social-care related legal challenges brought by Irwin Mitchell, campaigners claim the cuts could impact thousands of vulnerable and disabled residents, and could have huge ramifications for local authorities across the UK.

Disability campaigners say that the Isle of Wight Council’s policy has left many people confused and worried over whether they will be eligible for care and that the move fails to follow government guidance in which it is required to set its eligibility criteria on what social care needs the council will fund, following lawful consultation, according to four bands: critical; substantial; moderate and low.

Following an announcement by the Council earlier this year which stated that the needs of individuals not considered ‘critical’ would no longer be the responsibility of Isle of Wight Council the legal challenge was launched on behalf of two men known as JM and NT, both aged 32.  The Council said that it would also meet some substantial needs, but campaigners say that the extent of what they will meet remains entirely unclear. 

Suffering from severe autism and brain damage, JM struggles to communicate with anyone but his parents. NT has a-typical autism and a learning disability. Both men, and their families, rely heavily on the authorities to provide the 24-hour care they need.

However, the plans outlined by the Council, which aims to reduce the amount of money it spends on adult social care, are thought to affect up to 2,000 disabled people on the Isle of Wight who will lose all or parts of their social care packages currently provided by the Council as a result of these changes. 

Alex Rook, Associate Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The families of both the claimants in this case are extremely concerned about how the change in policy will affect them, as are many other people in the disability community.

“They are concerned that there are failures in the consultation process and a lack of clarity as to what the Council’s position actually is.  Though the Council have accepted that some of the most disabled people in the Isle of Wight have had their services cut many wait to see how they will be affected.  The court will hear argument on whether the change in policy and the budget cut decision by the Isle of Wight Council was lawfully made.”

Note to editors: Should you have any questions regarding this case please contact the Irwin Mitchell press office on 01142744666, or pressoffice@irwinmitchell.com. Neither party named in the above will be available for interview.